Troubled Waters: Archaeologists Race to Save Ancient Trading Post

| October 5, 2000

Troubled Waters: Archaeologists Race to Save Ancient Trading Post, Özgen Acar, Archaeology Magazine
Archeologists from around the globe are working tirelessly to save some of the best-preserved ancient Roman mosaics and frescoes before water from neighboring rivers floods the area. Reporting in Archaeology Magazine, Özgen Acar explains that during a 1986 energy crisis, the Turkish State Water Department opted to boost hydro power by damming parts of the Tigris and Euphrates. Once completed, the dams would submerge 245 areas of historical importance. One of the dams was completed in March, and will create a 21.6 square-mile lake partially covering the ancient trading post of Zeugma, sacrificing some of the Roman villas buried ten feet underground. Pleas from archaeologists and local officials in the region of Gaziantep that the Turkish government halt the project until the sites can be excavated and the artifacts preserved have fallen on deaf ears. So the race is on. Acar writes: 'Muammer Güler, the governor of Gaziantep, renewed the call to save Zeugma in 1998, channeling funds intended for the building of schools and hospitals to the rescue excavations. 'We can build schools and hospitals next year,' he explained, 'but we can't save Zeugma.'' -- Sara V. Buckwitz
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